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Posts Tagged ‘paris holiday’

Paris – The Louvre

Posted in Europe, Modern & Historical Art  by admin on November 1st, 2009

Unquestionably the most famous name in the world of art museums, The Louvre largely deserves its renown. Enormous and filled with irreplaceable treasures from around the world, this premier series of exhibits offers something for everyone.

The building itself is something of an historical and art adventure. The construction of the original structures began as long ago as the 13th century, though the present museum has its origins in efforts of three hundred years later. The existing Château du Louvre, which forms a large portion of the floorspace, was begun in 1546.

The subject of sporadic expansion efforts for the next three hundred years, the only major alteration in recent times was the addition of a grotesquely inappropriate glass pyramid completed in 1989. The Crystal Pyramid forms the current entrance.

The change had one advantage in opening up the museum to large numbers of visitors more comfortably. Through the entrance and down an escalator the visitor enters a world of 6,000 years of every style and type of art known to man.

Within the museum walls are Egyptian sarcophagi, Persian and Greek artifacts, medieval and Renaissance paintings, 19th century classical and Romantic sculptures and a smattering of the latest forms. Some estimates run as high as 100,000 pieces, but in truth no one could know with certainty.

The museum itself is an eclectic collection of styles, the consequence of its many additions and changes over the centuries. Much too large to see in one day, the visitor is well-advised to pick a few favorite periods or countries and focus on them. Naturally, the best strategy is to opt for several visits but that may not be practical for most.

There are the pieces known even to those with little interest in art – the da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the marble Winged Victory (Nike) of Samothrace, the armless Venus de Milo. But there are works well-known to those with at least a passing acquaintance with painting – Delacroix’s Liberty Guiding the People, Vermeer’s Geographer or Lacemaker, Ingres’ The Bather, David’s Marat Mort.

Along with the more recognizable pieces there are literally thousands on display known only to experts or the most regular visitors. Most of the collection is in storage at any given time. Many of the walls are covered from floor to very high ceiling with paintings ranging from miniatures to 10m by 3m (33 feet by 10 ft) canvases.

And there are a lot of those walls. The floor space covers several thousand square meters and there are a dozen different major buildings including the Château and the Tulieres that have been joined by passageways over the centuries. The various parts are also on several different levels, many connected only by steps. Be prepared for an extensive walk.

Fortunately, there are benches scattered about and the steps in many places are lightly used, providing several places to rest. To take a breather and enjoy a sandwich before continuing, the exterior too provides several places to sit. Here you can enjoy the passing parade of people or the stationary Les Jardins Tulieres. (Jardins is French for garden)

Lines can be long for tickets. Best to buy a ticket in advance or purchase one of the many available multiple-tourist-site passes. The museum is easy to reach via the metro (subway). Exit at the Palais Royal or Louvre Rivoli stations.

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Paris – The Seine River

Posted in Europe  by admin on September 10th, 2009

Whether seen by a long, leisurely walk or from one of the many excellent tour boats, the view along the Seine in Paris is a delight.

The river flows nearly 800km (480mi) from Dijon through Paris and into the English Channel. But even the short section through the city provides enough sights to satisfy the most discerning traveler.

La Tour Eiffel can be seen changing shades from cocoa to gold as dusk fades to dark. The lights along its four pillars melding into the spire are only one of the many sights not to be missed.

Joining the left and right banks (the ‘rive gauche’ and the ‘rive droit’) along this ancient river are bridges themselves no stranger to time.

The oldest extant is Pont Neuf, ironically called ‘the new bridge’, whose first stone was laid by Henry III in 1578. Continued during the reign of his successor Henry IV in 1598, the construction was an enormous undertaking for the time. Finally completed in 1607, the bridge itself is, in a sense, older than France. At the time, the country was still split into fairly independent regions, such as Burgundy, Champagne and Normandy.

One of its newer cousins is the Pont d’Austerlitz constructed from 1854 to 1885. Comprised of five cast iron arches with a span of 32m (105ft), it rests on four piers and two stone abutments. (Abutments are the supports for the ends of a bridge.) The bridge has been widened twice from its original 13m (43ft) to the present 30m (98ft).

But not only youth and age are represented along these shores. Elegant beauty, in the form of the Alexander III, is also here. Opened in 1900, the bridge connects the Grand Palais on the right bank to the Invalides on the left. With pillars decorated by a gilded bronze Pegasus and large lampposts encircled by cherubs and nymphs, the Alexander III is among Paris’ most artistic public works.

The many tour boats provide another way to see the sights. Some are small, others larger, but they all offer a relaxed way to see the bridges and parts of Paris from another point of view.

The visitor can enjoy a glass of wine as the lights come on along the Montparnasse. The larger boats even offer lunch or dinner. From the uncovered flat boats tours are given in English and French. Several glide as far as past the Eiffel Tower and back past Notre Dame to Quai Henri IV.

Accessible from the center of the Pont Neuf, just walk down to the tip of the island, du Vert Galant.

Once you’ve completed the boat tour, don’t forget about the other attractions. From the exit it’s just a short walk to many other things to do and see.

Just down the bank is one of the finest art museums in the world, the Musée d’Orsay. And there are several small galleries and shops along the way. Be sure to walk down the stone steps to the river itself and see the bridges from underneath as well.

Enchanté!

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Paris: Eiffel Tower

Posted in Europe, Sculptures & Monuments, Worldwide Travel Destinations  by admin on April 30th, 2008

The Eiffel Tower in Paris is one of the most remarkable symbols of Paris. The history that surrounds the creation of this monstrous and impressive tower is both full of conflicts and controversies, which makes it colorful in the whole sense.

Ultimately, the purpose of building the Eiffel Tower was for the Paris Exposition of 1889. A design competition was initiated for the purpose of choosing the most appropriate design for the soon-to-be erected tower. There have been 700 design entries. However, the entry submitted by a French structural engineer named Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) was unanimously selected. Engineers Mauriche Koechlin and Emile Nouguier and Architect Stephen Sauvestre assisted in finishing this design.

One of the arguments raised regarding the creation of Eiffel Tower was a petition submitted to the city government by well-known personalities during that era including Maupassant, Emile Zola, Charles Garnier and Dumas the Younger. In their petition they regarded the Eiffel Tower as a useless and monstrous tower. Another group that questioned the construction of Eiffel tower was the nature lovers who deliberate that the tower will disturb the flight of birds in Paris. Read the rest of this entry »

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